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FanDuel Sportsbook recently announced it would refund all straight moneyline bets made online on the Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs game after the James Harden dunk controversy.
Referees stated Harden’s dunk with 7:47 left in the game was not successful. However, television replays showed they clearly made a mistake. The Rockets would have led 104-89 if the dunk had counted, but the Spurs made a furious comeback to win the game 135-133 in overtime.
According to FanDuel, “Replays clearly show that the dunk went through the hoop, but Harden dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim making it appear like it was a missed dunk.” The New Jersey sportsbook has stated that the refunds amounted to around $20,000.
The situation has sparked widespread debate. Houston wanted the league to overturn the decision and replay the final seven and a half minutes at a later date, but that is not going to happen. Even if the dunk had counted, the Rockets gave up a big lead and would likely have lost the game in overtime anyway.
After the game, NBA crew chief James Capers gave an explanation of what had happened at the time of the controversial call. He then admitted to reporters that “it should’ve been a successful field goal”. Capers went onto clarify why the dunk by Harden did not count and why the play was not a reviewable one.
“Alright, when the play happened Harden goes in for a dunk, and then the ball appears to us to pop back up through the net. When that happens, that is basket interference. To have a successful field goal it must clear the net,” Capers said.
“We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.
“As to could the play have been reviewed. It is a reviewable matter, but you have a window of 30 seconds to challenge the play during that timeout that he had and while they were protesting the call, trying to get clarification of it, that window passed so therefore it elapsed and they were not able to do it.”
This is not the first time NBA bettors have benefitted from a controversy involving Harden. In March this year, PointsBet New Jersey paid out wagers on Harden winning the MVP months before the award winner was announced. The bookie was left red faced and out of pocket when Harden finished second to Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
According to the latest prices at FanDuel.com, Harden has the third-best odds to win the MVP:
• Giannis Antetokounmpo +185
• Luka Doncic +350
• James Harden +470
• LeBron James +550
• Anthony Davis +1200
• Joel Embiid +2200
FanDuel has many other futures odds for the NBA, but betting on Harden seems to pay out no matter what.